Winning the TEDxAmsterdam Award

Saturday 21 July 2018

In 2016, TEDxAmsterdam Award winner Astrid Sonneveld was in the early stages of developing The GoodShipping Program. A scientist and engineer, she’d started exchanging views with multinationals on what it would take to change the fuel mix in deep sea container shipping.

Back then, her idea “was just one slide with a simple vision” – to make that mix more sustainable – “and an idea of indicative cost and environmental impact.”

Astrid and her idea won the TEDxAmsterdam 2017 Award, which helped in part, to grow the program into what it is today – the world’s first sustainable marine program for shippers, regardless of their geography and current operations. The Program aims to change the fuel mix in the shipping industry, helping to stimulate and demonstrate the use of advanced biofuels in the industry.

We caught up with Astrid, who is The Program’s Director, to learn more about the Award experience and why it was a valuable step and learning curve. (Psst, after you read this and feel inspired to apply for this year’s Award, learn more here.)

When you heard about the TEDxAmsterdam Award, what prompted you to apply? What did it offer that you were looking for?

“Isabel, who joined GoodShipping in early 2017 to help bring it from concept to minimum viable service, had been a volunteer at TEDxAmsterdam 2016. As such, she knew about the Award.”

“We believed it would offer us the opportunity to share our story in a different way – to go beyond a B2B business case or pitch, and allow us to address the importance and urgency to pick up the glove and solve a societal problem unknown to many.

Indeed, an issue located and witnessed in the deep sea – out of sight – is a tough one to bring awareness to, and to make “change in an industry not subject to any regulations or pressures to make changes.”

For us, this was one of the reasons we wanted to shine a spotlight on The GoodShipping Program – the TEDxAmsterdam Award is all about growing ‘ideas worth doing’. And we especially love ideas that aim to have an impact on energy, sustainability, education, social cohesion, physical and mental wellbeing or social innovation.

What did the Award help you to achieve or overcome?

“In the early days, when we were shaping our idea, putting a price to it, there was some lack of clarity – it was hard to communicate to overseas companies about what we wanted to achieve and what our purpose was, when it was so new and they had no sort of ballpark to compare to.”

“Similarly, as as a young company, we also found that there was a lack of trust in our ideas, and surprisingly, people questioned whether we would deliver.

“TEDxAmsterdam helped to clarify the idea that we weren’t just commercial, that The GoodShipping Program was for the greater good.

"The TED brand, and the opportunity to pitch our idea at the 2017 event, added to our profile and helped to communicate our guarantee. 

“We were intrinsically motivated to ‘do good’ and it made it easier to transfer that idea.”

Where did you find the most value in the Award program?

“In pitch coach, David Beckett, and the official TED talk we did, which is published online.”

“Also, being around 24 other Award participants with different ideas, passions and ways of doing things was a lovely journey, very energising. The group was diverse and amazing.”

“The workshops were relevant, and I found much of the work from these materialised after the event.”

For others considering applying this year, what advice would you give them if they're unsure if the program is right for them?

“While many pitch competitions overpromise on the benefits – from participating and ultimately winning award prize money –  to those with the biggest business potential, TEDxAmsterdam focuses way more on ideas worth doing with the ultimate aim of creating a better world.”

“Above all, TED has huge brand value from which you benefit directly once you make it to the wonderful stage of the Stadsschouwburg event venue. The reward – networking and help offered – comes naturally.”

As part of the Award process, you’ll get to network with your peers – other thinkers, doers, dreamers, entrepreneurs and more – and receive guidance from business experts. And Astrid is right, if your idea makes it to the stage, you’ll be pitching your idea in front of hundreds of Amsterdam’s influencers, change makers and possible business partners.

How did the Award help The GoodShipping Program?

“It opened a lot of doors outside of the Netherlands – for both GoodShipping clients and Program Partners. It helped to put a face to a name when reaching out to those we needed to convince.”

“After we won, we’ve also been in contact with TEDxAmsterdam partner Clifford Chance and others, so it was later that we really gained the value of their expertise.”

Finish this sentence. "With the Award Program, you can..."

“...share your idea worth doing with an amazingly warm and engaged audience.”

If you’ve got an idea worth doing and want to share it with a warm and engaged audience and let us help it grow, apply for the 2018 TEDxAmsterdam Award by 15 September. You’ll find all the details (including videos of each of last year's pitches for extra inspiration) you need here. We can’t wait to hear from you!

- written by Jai Morton

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